THE SANDY BOTTOM ORCHESTRA by Garrison Keillor

THE SANDY BOTTOM ORCHESTRA

Age Range: 12 - 15
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KIRKUS REVIEW

As with Keillor's Lake Wobegon monologues, this tale of a Wisconsin teenager meeting adolescence head-on wanders amiably past daydreams, a vivid--sometimes unruly--cast, and the ups and downs in a very small town. In this team's first novel for young readers, chapters open and close in Rachel's life as she finishes eighth grade: Scott, met in music class, makes friendly overtures; her best friend, Carol, drifts away; the option of leaving town for an arts-oriented boarding school in the autumn comes up in family discussions, and she is invited to play violin in a summer orchestra--for money! The approach of Dairy Days, the town's Fourth of July celebration, brings successive crises, and Rachel ultimately finds herself part of an orchestra for which her fiery, chain-smoking mother is the pianist and her gentle father, the conductor--even though his previous experience with the baton has been entirely in front of the CD player. Rachel displays a winning mixture of courage and confusion as she makes her way through a first date, encounters with adults of various temperaments, and rehearsals with often-frisky fellow musicians. Nicely timed observations and frequent flights of fancy keep the tone wry and low-key, but there is nothing restrained about the closing's fireworks, blasting cannon, and soaring 1812 Overture. The parts may be more memorable than the sum, and adult characters more sharply drawn than the young ones, but Rachel's uncertainties and anxieties are explored with a sure touch, and the setting is totally convincing. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-7868-0173-5
Page count: 258pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1996




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